By creating new products, mentees JP and Adam are ensuring Do Tank’s future as it moves from being a service-based company to offering its own creations. Indeed, three new products are planned for launch this year. Meanwhile, the company has attracted new customers and sales have increased by an impressive 20 per cent in six months.
The mentee company's challenge
For six years, software specialists Do Tank Studios successfully worked with blue chip clients designing and developing their applications. Directors Adam Hoyle and Jean-Philippe Altier (JP) describe themselves more as ‘people who make things, rather than people who know how to run a business’, which proved somewhat problematic when, in the midst of the recession, Do Tank’s growth was slower. Recognising the need to move forward, Adam and JP sought advice through our Creative Business Mentor Programme.
The mentoring process
Technology and business expert John Varney became Do Tank’s mentor, meeting with Adam and JP regularly over a period of months. The mentoring process covered two broad areas: business skills and product development. In phase one, Adam and JP learned the importance of structure: setting targets, developing a plan to meet them and then monitoring performance. Phase two focused on the development of new products, particularly, how to turn technology into something commercially viable.
Results and lessons learned
One of the key results of John’s mentoring has been a huge growth in confidence and business acumen for Adam and JP. Actually doing the work – developing a business plan with achievable targets, learning how to better plan products and meet goals – has given them a sense that “we can do it, we can achieve our goals”. The team at Do Tank has more confidence and motivation, better understanding the market and taking a real go-getter approach.
At the same time, by creating new products, JP and Adam are ensuring Do Tank’s future as it moves from being just a service-based company to offering its own creations. Indeed, three new products are planned for launch this year. Meanwhile, the company has attracted new customers and sales have increased by an impressive 20 per cent in six months.
Adam and JP believe the match set up for them by Nesta was ideal. And, they say, attending Nesta’s networking days where they met similarly minded companies, identified potential partners and learned from other mentors’ presentations has been equally helpful.
Hints and tips for businesses
- A mentor’s fresh viewpoint can bring a new perspective to a business. Looking from the outside in is always beneficial, no matter what stage of development a company has reached.
- When growing a company, focus is vital. It’s easy to concentrate on the interesting stuff, like developing new products, at the expense of the more mundane business requirements. An outsider, such as a mentor, can spot the mistake and refocus your efforts where and when they’re needed.
Photos: Mentor John Varney, and mentees Adam Hoyle and Jean-Philippe Altier